東京女子大学 人文学科 英語文学文化専攻


役者さんにインタビューしました!A Bilingual report: Interviews with the actors

ITCL公演 The Merchant of Venice
Interviews with actors

After the performance we had inteviews with two of the actors.

Ms Angela Davenport had given us kind help and guidance in preparing transcriptions of English from recorded voice data. We would like to express our heart-felt thanks to her. Regrettably she left TWCU in September 2015 and moved to England where she now lives with her husband. We miss you and our love will always be with you, Angela sensei!

(Student Editors)

Interview with Mr. A.

Do you use different elocutions for verse and prose?

A lot of the speeches in the original text have been left alone in this production. It has been not too changed, because this particular production is very much designed for a foreign language audience; and we are lucky in China and Japan to have subtitles. When we tour in Europe, in Germany, or France, we don't have subtitles. So we have to make it as understandable as possible.

It's a delicate balance because half the company's income comes from private audience members as in public performing theatres so it's the general public coming to watch.
Sometimes, the theatres are entirely booked out by school children — 16-year-old German children. So you have to take it into account what that is paying your wage, that is, it is the schools that contribute to pay the money.
You have to make it as understandable as possible for the children; and that generally means changing one or two Shakespearean sentences as best as you can to fit with the verse in modern English just to keep clarity— just to keep understanding.
I personally don't like to change too much. When my director says, "Can we change this line to something modern?" I always get a little apprehensive but I understand why.

But if we were performing exclusively in the UK, it would be a slightly different show, as we would just stick to the 100% original text. I would say the production that you've just seen is about 90% original Shakespeare with a couple of belly dancers and bull fights thrown in.

Is The Merchant of Venice a tragedy or a comedy?

I think it' s complex. I think it's a tragedy within a comedy. I think the important thing to remember with this play is that there're really no heroes. No one is guiltless. You know, Antonio is not a very nice man. He's really not. And neither is Shylock. Yes, Shylock is a victim in society, his persecution, the anti-Semitism, and everything. But he is also a tyrant himself. He's pretty horrible at home to his daughter Jessica, which is why she leaves.
Yes, there's no winners and there's no losers, which is why the ending is a bold choice to have Shylock kill himself. And Antonio, even though he's a rich man, he has his life, he has half the Shylock's money, he is still unfulfilled; he's still not happy. That is in the text. You know, we decided to put the first line, of the show, at the end of the play to show Antonio's discontent with his happiness. And the audience can very much interpret why he is sad about himself. Whether that is because he is secretly in love with Bassanio? Whether he is distressed for whatever reason. You know, we make it ambiguous and let the audience decide because it is quite an ambiguous play. It's a very tricky play to perform in this day and age.
In Shakespeare's day, it would have been very clear, who was the villain, and who was the hero of the piece, because there was in Shakespeare's time, in late Elizabethan and late fifteen hundred's, there was a lot of anti-Semitism, hatred and mistrust of the Jewish people, so when it was performed, the audience would very much be on the side of the Christians and not at all empathizing with Shylock.

Interview with Mr. B.

This play was written as a comedy, but in some scenes, it seems to be a tragedy. Is this story a comedy or a tragedy for you?

Well, it's one of the issues of the play today. It's how to view it. I guess it's probably best classed as what's called a "tragi-comedy", so it's funny but tragic at the same time.
それはこの芝居の今日的な、どのような視点から見るかという問題ですね。 "Tragi-Comedy"と呼ぶことができると思います。楽しくもあり、同時に悲劇的でもある。
Part of the problem is the change in society since Shakespeare wrote it. When Shakespeare wrote the play, it was probably much, probably a lot lighter than it is for us today. Because, for instance, in the trial scene, when Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity, for the audience of that time, that was a great result. Because his soul was being saved.
So, it's over time that that has become a very nasty thing to do. And it's become a quite tragic moment rather than a happy ending for Shylock. So it's changed over the years as society's view of different religions and things has to have changed.
Having said that, it's very cleverly written to be funny, but also to allow the character of Shylock to not just be a villain. Not just be a comedy villain, but he actually has a very real person. So he is not evil, he is not good! But he is not evil. So it's a very interesting bit of writing.
And I do wonder whether the reason it's partly a comedy is to make the tragic aspect easier for the audience of the day. If it was just a play about, "Look how mean these Christians are treating this Jew," it probably wouldn't have gone down very well. But, if you make it a comedy, and then slip that in, sort of have that message in it as well. And it's not just the Christians mistreating the Jews; the Jews are not nice to the Christians, either. So it's a bit of both.

In this play, Shylock is the only Jewish character. How do you express the differences between him and the other characters?

Um, that's a very interesting question. There are differences; obviously the costumes are very different from what others are wearing. And, he's different for a lot of it in terms of age, and I suppose in the tone in which he speaks, the way in which he speaks; he's quite different.
You see, but that's the interesting thing, though, because the costume isn't my choice, that was the costume designer and the director. And the script isn't my choice, that's Shakespeare.
So, have I done something different? I don't know if I can answer that. All I can really say is that I tried to play the character that I saw in the text, because the character is different in the text that it comes across differently from that. But I don't think there was the point for I consciously said, "I would do this like this, to make my character different from the others".
I'm going to go home and think about that!

Which point do you feel difficult or fun to act in this play?

Oh, difficult? The "I am a Jew" speech. "Hath not a Jew hands?"(Act 3 Scene1 l.49) Because, it is one of the most famous speeches in the English language. There is a certain pressure, every time I get to it. So, that bit, it's not hard, because of the text, or because of the stuff going on, but it's difficult because it's so well-known. The pressure of it. So that makes it quite tricky.
But also, I'm trying to think…. There's a moment in the trial scene, when I haven't said anything for a while, and I've got a few short lines that interjected. That's difficult, because I have a habit of forgetting that I've got those lines. So I say them, but I just remember just in time. I just remember just in time that I've got them, but I keep forgetting. So, that's a different kind of difficulty but….
ああ、難しいところですか?それはまず、 "I'm a Jew" Speechです。(Hath not a Jew hands(3幕一場49行目))なぜなら、これは英語の台詞の中で最も有名な台詞の一つだからです。この台詞を言うときは常に、いくらかプレッシャーがありますね。台詞が難しいからとか長いからという理由ではなく、「良く知られている」というプレッシャーの難しさがあります。そこが一苦労ですね。同時に裁判のシーンでは、しばらく何も言わず、いくつか短い台詞を差し挟むところがあります。そこが難しいです、何故なら衣装を着ていると台詞を忘れそうになるからです。台詞を言っていますが、その時その時で思い出しているのです。難しさの性質は違いますがね。

So, both of the long lines and short lines are difficult?

Yes! The longest bit and the shortest bit.
Now, what's fun is that, after the trial scene, I come back on the stage as the servant, and I have no lines, and I just walk across the stage and back. The best bit of the show for me. I love it. That's the most fun bit for me. Wonderful.

Does it have any meaning that you act both the role of Shylock and the servant?

I'd loved to say "yes", there is a meaning behind it. But no, it's just there is only six of us among and the only free person to play that part. That's it. I'm afraid.
The first time that character appears on the stage, everyone else on stage, so, it's got be me. So that's it, sorry. If we think about it, I'm sure we can give it meaning, but, no, necessity.

The climax in this drama is the trial scene in Act 4. Do you have some key points in acting this scene?

Um, yes. It's an interesting scene for me. Because, I start with two quite big speeches at the top of the scene. And then, it goes into the little lines of bits and pieces.
And obviously, there is a key moment of nearly stabbing Antonio, that's quite a key moment to get. For me, it is one of the key moments, and this is the entirely down to the way I've chosen to play rather than script-wise is, there is the moment when Shylock starts to doubt. And this is my choice, it's not script.
But there is the moment when Antonio is speaking to Bassanio, and Shylock starts to have a moment of "am I really gonna kill this man? Can I actually bring myself to do this?" And then, Bassanio talks about, "I'll give up my wife and everything to save you." And Shylock switches back again, Shylock "Yes, I'm going to do this." That's just a personal think, I've got no lines for it. And it's almost entirely internal rather than anything there.
"I'm going to kill him", it's less interesting, it's less exciting. And it makes Shylock less humorous as well. If he's unsure, if it could go either way, it makes a bit more exciting, more interesting. So, that's the key point to get that balance.